Child Life Clinical Student Programs

The Child Life Program at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital operates within the Department of Women and Children’s Services as an integral part of the pediatric care team. The program consists of a manager, as well as Certified Child Life Specialists with Bachelors or Masters Degrees in various fields such as child life, child development, family studies, human development, psychology or a related field working with children. The Child Life Arts for Healing program has a manager in addition to an art therapist, music therapists and Artists-in-Residence.

Child life specialists function as interdisciplinary team members focusing on the psychosocial needs of hospitalized infants, children and adolescents. Child life specialists work in all pediatric inpatient areas, several pediatric outpatient areas and have a presence in adult outpatient areas where pediatric patients are served.

We offer both a child life practicum and a child life internship. The practicum is designed to expose students to the field of child life, whereas the internship is an intensive clinical experience that trains students to practice as an entry-level child life specialist.

Child Life

The Child Life Practicum Program is a 12-week, 150-hour placement, offered during the fall and winter/spring semesters. The Child Life Practicum Program is designed as an introductory experience for individuals interested in pursuing a career in child life. Through experiential learning and observations of Certified Child Life Specialists, child life practicum students begin to increase their knowledge of basic child life skills related to play, developmental assessment and integration of child life theory into interventions with children of all ages and their families. Through these experiences, child life practicum students will enhance their knowledge of the child life profession and investigate the process of applying child life and developmental theory into practice. In order to apply for internship experiences, students must demonstrate academic preparation that meets the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) requirements and verify completion of a practicum. Review the Child Life Professional Candidate Certification Manual for more detailed information.

Practicum Application Requirements

The following requirements must be met at time of application:

  1. Successful completion of a minimum of three college-level courses within any combination of the following subject areas: Child Life, Child Development, Family Studies, Human Development, Psychology, Sociology, Counseling, Education, Expressive Therapies, or Therapeutic Recreation
  2. Fifty volunteer/work hours completed in a pediatric hospital or other related areas (i.e. medical camp, rehabilitation center, hospice, educational setting for children with complex medical needs)
  3. A minimum overall GPA of 3.0

Please note: Students who complete a practicum at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital will NOT be eligible to apply for a child life internship at our facility.

Practicum Application Deadlines

Semester Application Deadline Acceptance Deadline Months of Placement
Fall April 1 May 1 September to December
Winter/Spring Nov. 1 Dec. 1 January to April

How to Request a Practicum Application Packet

To obtain a practicum application packet, contact the Practicum Coordinators using the contact information below. Please provide the following information:

  1. Are you currently affiliated with a college or university?
  2. If yes, what is your current course of study? If no, please identify your level of education and what course of study your degree was earned.
  3. For which semester are you applying (fall or spring)?

Child Life Practicum Coordinators

Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital
Child Life Program SP 7-414
20 York Street
New Haven, CT 06510

*Email: ChildLifeProgram@ynhh.org
Phone: 203-688-2334

*Email is the preferred method of correspondence.

The Child Life Internship Program is a 16-week, 600-hour internship that provides individuals with the clinical and professional experiences needed to enter the field of child life. Under the supervision of a team of Certified Child Life Specialists, an intern will learn about all aspects of child life, including therapeutic play, procedural preparation and support, coping techniques, bereavement, and parental and sibling support. At the completion of the internship, an intern will be eligible to sit for the Association of Child Life Professional’s certification exam and will be prepared to practice as an entry-level child life specialist.

Internship Application Requirements

The following requirements must be met at time of application:
  • Enrollment in or completion of a degree program (undergraduate or graduate) focused in the fields of child life, child development, family studies, human development, psychology or a related field working with children. Transcripts are due at time of application. We contract with both affiliated and unaffiliated students.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.0.
  • Successful completion or current enrollment in college-level courses that meet the Association of Child Life Professional’s 2019 academic requirements. An ACLP eligibility assessment reflecting the completion of, or current enrollment in, all required coursework should be included with your application. Review the Child Life Professional Candidate Certification Manual for more detailed information.
  • A minimum of 200 hours of practicum, volunteer, or work experience. At least 100 of these hours must be a child life practicum experience directly under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. The remaining 100 hours must also represent experience with infants, children and/or families but does not necessarily have to take place in a healthcare setting. All 200 hours must be completed by the application deadline. Students who have finished at least 100 practicum hours, but who have not yet completed the practicum experience or program, can submit an ACLP Practicum In-Progress form to demonstrate proof of the 100-hour requirement.
  • Submission of three references, using the Child Life Internship Candidate Common Recommendation form. One must be completed by a practicum or hospital volunteer supervisor who has directly observed you and your interactions with children and families. One should be completed by an academic supervisor. The final form can be completed by an individual chosen by applicant but must be someone who has directly observed you working with children. No recommendations from friends or family will be considered.
  • NOTE: Candidates are required to be CPR certified at least one month prior to start of internship. The course must be the “Healthcare Provider” level and must cover infant and children. Proof of certification requested upon acceptance to internship program.

Internship Application Deadlines

Semester Application Deadline (Received By) Offer Deadline Acceptance Deadline Months of Placement
Fall March 15 1st Tuesday of May Following Wednesday Early September to Mid-December
Winter/Spring September 5 1st Tuesday of October Following Wednesday Mid-January to End of April

How to Request an Internship Application Packet

To obtain a complete internship application packet, contact the Internship Coordinators using the contact information below.

Child Life Internship Coordinators

Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital
Child Life Program SP 7-414
20 York Street
New Haven, CT 06510

*Email: ChildLifeProgram@ynhh.org
Phone: 203-688-2334

*Email is the preferred method of correspondence.

What level of education do I need to be eligible for a child life internship?
An applicant needs to have at least a bachelor's or master’s degree (or enrolled in coursework leading to a bachelor's or master’s degree) in child life or a related field (including but not limited to child development, family studies, human development, psychology, etc.). However, several courses are needed for acceptance to the internship program. Please review the internship requirements above for more specifics.

Do I have to be affiliated with a college/university to complete my internship?
We contract with colleges/universities for enrolled students completing their bachelor's or master's degrees. For individuals who have already earned their bachelor's or master's degree, the contract is between Yale New Haven Hospital and the individual learner. Non-affiliated students must purchase their own professional liability insurance.

Are there fees/expenses associated with the internship?
There is no fee to apply to the internship, which is an unpaid position. Students are required to have several textbooks in order to complete assignments throughout the semester. All other educational materials are provided and administrative costs are covered by the hospital. Interns are also responsible for their own housing and living expenses while in New Haven. The child life intern coordinators have housing resources that will be shared upon acceptance to the program.

What can best prepare me for the internship?
We require a minimum of 200 hours of practicum, volunteer, or work experience. At least 100 of these hours must be a child life practicum experience in a hospital setting directly under the supervision of a Certified Child Life Specialist. This exposure will provide the opportunity to observe the role of a child life specialist and help you solidify your own commitment to the field of child life.

What happens after my application is received?
Each application is reviewed by the Child Life Student Committee upon receipt. In keeping with the deadlines mentioned above, you will be notified if your application is going forward to the interview process.

What can I expect as a Child Life Intern?
Our goal during the 16-week (600-hour) internship is to provide a professional level, clinical experience that will prepare you to enter the field of child life. As an intern, you will work 40 hours a week following the same schedule as your clinical rotation supervisor(s). The hours are typically during the daytime, although they may vary with clinical rotation supervisor schedules as well as special programming that might occur during the evening. In this way, you will acquire the most realistic and consistent working experience to prepare you to be a child life specialist.